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Would you add parentheses in the first place when you write alternative content?

Example:

"This car has a(n) (optional) navigation system."

or

"This car has a (optional) navigation system." ?

Remark: I am not an native English speaker, so please be gentle.

marked as duplicate by Matt E. Эллен, aedia λ, FumbleFingers, RegDwigнt Apr 25 '14 at 21:46

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  • 2
    There really ought to be a word for the (optional) placement of of brackets around the word "optional". To me, it's a bit like tautology, but with a greater sense of superfluousness. – FumbleFingers Apr 25 '14 at 20:49
  • And of course if the system is optional, then the car does not actually have it. It might get one, and only if you make it so. – RegDwigнt Apr 25 '14 at 21:47
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Using parentheses is generally considered bad form or lazy. Usually you'll find that their contents were unnecessary, or could've been more clearly stated with a rewrite. The best way to write the sentence would be like this.

This car has an optional navigation system.

However, if you are just asking about how to use them, then the first sentence is correct, even though it looks strange.

This car has a(n) (optional) navigation system.

Some stuff on parentheses. http://www.writingsimplified.com/2009/04/how-and-when-to-use-parentheses.html

  • I'd much prefer "an" to "a(n)" in the second case. In my mind a or an is chosen depending on on the sound that immediately follows, not starting sound of the noun it's semantically attached to. – nollidge Apr 25 '14 at 21:42

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